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I make a very simple BBQ sauce for chicken that's composed of butter, vinegar, and an assortment of dried spices (lots of paprika, some cayenne, salt, etc). My problem is that the spices won't remain in suspension; they drop to the bottom very quickly. I have to stir a lot before each application, and even if I do the last bit in the pan is much more concentrated than the first.

I'd like to be able to make larger batches and refrigerate it for future use, but that's out of the question since it would harden with all the spices at the bottom.

How can I get the spices to remain in suspension without affecting the taste?

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The easiest solution would be to add a thickening agent to your sauce. Which agent will depend on how much you are willing to have the texture of the sauce change in order to achieve a good suspension. One of the easiest methods, if you are also willing to alter the flavor profile in the direction of South Carolina or Germany, would be to add mustard. Natural emulsifiers in the mustard will help keep the butter from separating and also provide a bit of thickness to keep the spices in suspension. If you don't want to change the flavor profile, many recipes intended for the home kitchen suggest thickening the sauce with cornstarch. Most commercial sauces will use a combination of modified food starch (which isn't readily available to the home cook) and xanthan gum (which is becoming increasingly available at most mega-marts), the usage of which has been discussed on this site previously [here and here].

  • Thanks for the answer. I'll try the cornstarch since mustard would definitely alter the taste undesirably. – Carey Gregory Oct 10 '11 at 22:20
  • @CareyGregory If you use corn starch, it generally needs to be heated to just below the boil before the thickening really kicks in. Take a small amount, combine with water (and maybe your ingredients), then simmer until you see it setup. Then add to other ingredients. – MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars Jun 7 '18 at 13:28

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